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United Nations Focus On Chronic Diseases

Public HealthSep 19, 11

Leading Australian chronic disease groups said today that this week’s historic United Nations summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) must mark the start of a united and continuous action in the fight against the rapid rise of major chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, kidney disease and chronic respiratory disease.

Major diseases like these represent an enormous social and economic burden for all nations, but those suffering the most are the low and middle income countries, whose health systems are ill-equipped to cope with this mounting epidemic.

A large proportion of this burden of disease is preventable through implementation of cost effective interventions, including strategies to control tobacco, salt reduction and food reformulation programs as well as encouraging individuals to be physically active on a daily basis.

The summit, which will be held in New York on Monday Sep 19 and Tuesday Sep 20 is the UN’s second major health summit. The first was held in 2001 focusing on HIV/AIDS.

With NCDs causing over 60% of all deaths worldwide at a cost of trillions of dollars to the global economy and with 80% of victims living in poor countries where the epidemic grows most rapidly, the case for coordinated global action on NCDs forces action.

During the past year Australians for Global Action on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) met with parliamentarians and senior health and aid officials to fortify their leadership to ensure solid outcomes from the UN summit and to assure that the summit leads to sustained action in the future.

Pioneering action on plain packaging of tobacco has made Australia an established world leader in tobacco control, putting the country in a good position to continue leading global change in order to achieve a secure and strong commitment to action at the summit, such as speedier implementation of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Australia’s recent announcement of funding assistance for NCD control in the Pacific also indicates the country’s commitment to global action on NCDs.

The draft outcomes document that will be considered at the summit is close to being a full and solid response to the global NCD epidemic. If adopted, their content has sufficient commitment to action to enable global coordinated action on NCDs to seriously get underway.

It is very encouraging to see a commitment to developing global targets and indicators and a monitoring framework during 2012 and to witness some serious commitments towards causes of chronic disease, many of which can be prevented.

The Australian Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance (ACDPA) thanks the Australian Government for its commitment to the summit and greatly anticipates working jointly with both government and the broader community to reduce the disasters caused by chronic disease in Australia, their region and the developing world.

Written by Petra Rattue

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